Tensions in Colorado City / Couple claims arrest was religious persecution

ABC News 4, Salt Lake City/July 21, 2010

Colorado City, Arizona - Escalating tensions in the polygamous community along the Utah-Arizona border. The Arizona Attorney General is calling for an emergency hearing with a Utah judge to deal with it.

Such a hearing didn't come soon enough for one couple living in Colorado City.

Utah courts assumed control of the United Effort Plan Trust declaring the trust had been abandoned by then FLDS President Warren Jeffs. The UEP trust owns most of the land in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.

And yet, the court-appointed administrator has been fought by the FLDS in his efforts to reform the trust. One of his most controversial moves among the FLDS has been to give occupancy agreements for homes in the community to non-FLDS people.

Matt and Genevive Hainline have roots in the twin towns but do not believe in Warren Jeffs or polygamy. Two years ago they got an occupancy agreement for an abandoned, half-built house with a work shed. They immediately started to work on the house, but say they were harassed every step of the way by neighbors and city officials.

That harassment seemed to culminate this week with their arrest on their own property.

The Hainlines were trying to clear out the work shed of items left by a previous occupant. They were instructed by the Mohave County Sheriff to place the items in a storage unit and then simply give the key to the unit to the old occupant.

But as they went to work Tuesday morning, town Marshals showed up with a Temporary Restraining Order signed by the local justice of the peace. The TRO essentially barred them from their own property – namely the shed. Genevive explained, "What's weird about the restraining order is that it has some bogus address that they're trying to apply to the shop on our property."

Confused, they tried to call both the court and the sheriff to figure out how to resolve the problem.

Before they could get answers, the Marshals returned. First, they arrested Matt without a warrant and without explanation. Then they arrested Genevive by pulling her off of the family's pick-up truck and wrestling her to the ground. "How do you stay calm?" Genevive asked. "No matter who you are, how can you stay completely calm when they can take everything from you?"

She continued, "It's like they will take whatever they want from me - do whatever they want with my property. I feel like I live in America and I should have some rights. But I have no rights when I am there in Colorado City."

Neither says they were told their offense until after they were booked into jail. The charge: "interfering with judicial process."

The Hainlines believe the real reason for the arrest is religion. They claim there is an effort on the part of the FLDS controlled town government and people to run off anyone not of the FLDS faith.

ABC 4 tried to contact the head of the town Marshals, Jonathan Roundy, for an explanation of what happened Tuesday at the Hainlines. We were told that he was both unavailable and unreachable. We left a number.

Family members posted bail and the Hainlines were out of jail by Wednesday afternoon.

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